The Lions won two league championships during their previous USL stint (2011-14) and have been a huge success at the gate in their first MLS season, drawing average crowds of 32,202 (second only to Seattle) to the Florida Citrus Bowl as construction on the team’s own facility is completed.
Orlando City SC B will be coached by former Lions player Anthony Pulis and will share operations with the MLS team under the direction of chairman and majority owner Flávio Augusto da Silva, and founder and president Phil Rawlins.
“We are pleased to welcome back such an influential club in USL history for the 2016 season,” USL president Jake Edwards said in a league press release. “Having Orlando City SC back in the USL and playing in the greater Orlando area is an important step as we continue to build the league’s presence in the Southeastern United States.”
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the new team will play in Melbourne, which is about 70 miles from Orlando.
Lehigh Valley, FC Cincinnati, and Rio Grande Valley FC will start play in USL next season. The league has announced that Austin will take a year off and return in 2017 when another expansion team in Reno (Nev.) is scheduled to start up. Philadelphia Union will operate the Lehigh Valley team.